Astrologer Eric Francis: Birth and Death charts of Phillip Seymour Hoffman

This is a fascinating analysis And go to the original, for comments, many of them also revelatory.

Re: addiction, this is a subject that has long preoccupied me, since we can consider any repeating pattern, if we subconsciously need it to feel safe, or comfortable, an “addiction.” With that perspective, daily routines are also implicated. Who then, is not an addict? That said, it depends on the nature of those small (or large) repeating patterns. Some are neutral. Others decidedly not. Of these others, do they promote life or death, regeneration or dis-ease?

I was seriously addicted to cigarettes for 15 years. Here’s my story of “recovery,” which of course, is always provisional. I do not dare take even one puff of a cigarette. However, I do allow a (minor) addiction to caffeine, and I am seriously addicted to walking 3-4 miles each day, and doing an hour besides of yoga, chi kung and tai chi. These “positive” addictions, I call them, support my life, and I am very grateful that I was able to “turn myself around.” It was not easy. It’s never easy. It may be that all of us are walking around, wounded.

Had I returned to cigarettes, I can just imagine how I would feel about myself, now. As we all know, the inner demons that call for blood are not easily quelled, and when allowed any leeway, they tend to undermine all previous work towards stability, no matter how hard fought, putting us right back to zero, or even below, because we “had it
together” once, and allowed it to slip away.

Time after time, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, as an actor of extraordinary subtlety and nuance, portrayed these conflicted depths of the human being, and his death, coming so shortly after his long-time companion and mother to his three children told him he had to move out of their home to get himself together, feels unusually tragic.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman: Seeking Freedom from Isolation

February 3, 2014

by Eric Francis

Note — there is a version of this article with a podcast about Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The chart of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death — that is, the chart for when his body was found, the only time we can know for sure — is thick with drug-related themes. We know that about the situation already; media reports say he was found with the hypodermic needle in his arm and heroin packets nearby.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and MIchael Angarano in Almost Famous.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and MIchael Angarano in Almost Famous.

Hoffman was considered one of the great actors of his time, often playing the roles of troubled, complex men.

His roles included rock journalist Lester Bangs inAlmost Famous (who died of an overdose), the lead role inCapote about the life of writer Truman Capote, Andy inBefore the Devil Knows You’re Dead, and a weird film from a few years ago calledSynecdoche, New York.

He also is credited with a diversity of Broadway roles, including none other than the terminally doomed Willie Loman inDeath of a Salesman. There is an idea among astrologers who specialize in actors and their biographies that the astrology of the actor is a fair stand-in for the astrology of the characters they play. Said another way, there is a strong association between the actor and their roles. While Hoffman had a reputation for diversity, his roles all seem to have something in common — a distant quality and an existential struggle.

The primary chart I am working with is that of Hoffman’s body being found on Sunday morning. It’s impossible to know the actual time of his death; the discovery of the scene is what we can know more or less for sure. I’ve seen no conflict in the time, so I am working with 11:30 am on Feb. 2 in New York City.

This is clearly the chart of a drug overdose. We see this in the Mercury-Neptune conjunction in Pisces, as well as a centaur planet called Pholus appearing in the 8th house, one house that often points to the cause of death. Pholus for its part is often related to substance issues, most often alcohol though it could be anything addictive and intoxicating. Pholus has the key phrase “small cause, big effect.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman found dead in his apartment in New York City. Time source: media reports.

Philip Seymour Hoffman found dead in his apartment in New York City. Time source: media reports.

All overdoses are worth considering as suicides, but I don’t think this was an intentional one. I don’t think he intended to die. I think he got heroin a lot stronger than he was accustomed to. It’s something that can happen when someone is clean for a while and starts using again, or when they use a different batch with considerably higher potency than the last few times. It looks like one of those two scenarios was the situation.

Yet lurking underneath the immediate scenario of the overdose was a sense of being trapped in his situation, and these charts have a feeling of deep isolation and the drive to break free. No doubt heroin offered at least the sensation of that feeling, temporary though it was.

The chart describes a person who is well known but who feels invisible; someone who is loved but who feels that there is something blocking his ability to really make contact with others. He seemed to be so mentally oriented that he lacked real interest in sex or other forms of human closeness. It seems like sex was not something done out of passion or the drive to connect or even to conquer; for Hoffman it seems to have been a negotiated arrangement.

He may have had a long-distance love interest who actually did inspire his passions yet who was not in the area and with whom he could not actually be with, someone who was deeply important to him — and this added to the sense of isolation.

Here is some information from his natal chart. We don’t have his time of birth; it’s not known to the astrology community at this time. He is also born with his Sun right on the Cancer-Leo line — we don’t know what sign he is, though I would bet he is born with the Sun in very late Cancer. This indicates a life spent clinging to the edge, and describes a sensitive person who is easily overwhelmed. Sun trine very late-degree Chiron in Pisces makes perfect sense for this person.

My proposed rectification of Hoffman's chart. I have put his Sun in late Cancer rather than early Leo, trine Chiron; his Moon is in late Aquarius conjunct Pholus.

My proposed rectification of Hoffman’s chart. I have put his Sun in late Cancer rather than early Leo, trine Chiron; his Moon is in late Aquarius conjunct Pholus.

Regardless of the exact time, we can see some key transits. Here are a few:

Transiting Uranus is almost conjunct (two degrees) his natal Saturn, and of course transiting Pluto is squaring that. One’s Saturn taking a double transit from the Uranus-Pluto square creates obvious tension and pressure to change. Note, his Saturn is a complex placement. It was exactly conjunct Eris when he was born. It’s also squared by Pallas and Mercury. This creates a lot if internal pressure — the sensation of wanting to explode — and a depressive quality as well. He seems to have often put his feelings into cerebral override, adding to the sense of emotional pressure.

Transiting Jupiter is conjunct his natal Mercury. This is the illustration of overwhelm/overdose. It’s the image of him seeking something wider, larger, deeper, more interesting…some spiritual meaning in his life. But in the death chart, Jupiter rules the 8th house (cause of death) and we can see that he was expressing this through a toxic substance. Note that transiting Jupiter is also square his Saturn-Eris conjunction — adding to the tension of that aspect and seeking an escape, which comes in the form of Jupiter.

Transiting Saturn is conjunct his natal Neptune. This can be the sensation of ‘the fantasy killed’ and it’s certainly an interesting image of an overdose. He reached or ran into a limit. It can be a frustrating transit for someone who is fantasy-driven or who depends on inspiration for their work; it’s the feeling of that inspiration not coming across. It takes discipline and focus (Saturn) to create and manifest what you imagine (Neptune).

He was in a node reversal, a transit that happens every 18 years, with the first event at nine years old. The lunar nodes (which are in an 18-year cycle) are reversed against the natal position, i.e., the transiting North Node is conjunct the natal South Node and vice versa. This can add to the feeling of being trapped in one’s own karma.

– Additional astrology: Elizabeth Michaud

Eric Francis

About Eric Francis

Planet Waves began in 1998 as the home of the Eric Francis horoscope, a prominent feature in our premium service. Going far beyond what most Sun-sign astrologers even dream is possible, Eric brings in-depth interpretations to his work. He is a pioneer in the newly-discovered planets, including Chiron and the centaurs, and is able to translate their movements into accessible human terms, offering ideas for life, love and work. Discover a whole new world of literary journalism in Planet Waves. We offer free trial subscriptions, discounts for students and seniors, and gift subscriptions for veterans and those on active military duty.

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